AFC Rushden & Diamonds lost 5-1 to Oadby Town in the battle between the second and third placed teams in the league. After both sides had battled hard during the first period, an excellent Jon Stevenson goal late in the first half proved a turning point, as the home side added two further goals straight after the break, and added two more as the Diamonds chased the game. An Alfie Taylor goal during added time was the only consolation for the Diamonds.
Diamonds manager Mark Starmer brought back Jake Gillingwater following his one-match suspension, meaning he could allow Alfie Taylor to take a place on the bench, after having been forced to use him in the starting line-up on Tuesday whilst he is still getting back to full fitness after his long lay-off. Jack Wisniewski continues to be unavailable due to his knee injury, and with Joe Merrill ill on his return from holiday, and Elliot Dent on holiday until the weekend, the line-up was otherwise unchanged, although Deven Ellwood was welcomed back to the bench. Ben Morgan started up front again, with Brad Harris partnering Séan McBride in central midfield. Oadby were playing their first game since the middle of December, and were missing their top scorer Jake Duffy due to suspension.
The pitch was predictably heavy, but Jake Newman did well to work the ball to the left by-line after 5 minutes to cross towards Matt Gearing at the near-post, but the ball was smothered before he could get a shot away. Newman then shot wide after being set free on the left by an excellent pass from Séan McBride.
At the other end a bouncing ball eluded Chris Hope, allowing Ollie Brown-Hill to get in a shot which was straight at Shorunmu. With 15 minutes on the clock Jake Newman sprinted clear of the Poachers’ defence, and as keeper Hinds ran out of his area to try to clear the danger the Diamonds striker got the pace right on his chip from 25 yards, but the ball went just wide of the right-hand post.
Ben Morgan did really well to carve himself a chance by burrowing through the home defence, but his weak left-foot shot was easily fielded by Hinds.
A long ball forwards then gave Jake Newman his second one-on-one of the game, although this time he was at full stretch to reach the ball, and although he pushed it past Hinds he couldn’t quite catch the ball before it was past the left-hand side of goal.
The Poachers style of play was quite different to the Diamonds, as they made more use of the flanks, and were able to get crosses into the area, one of which flew across goal, and another found striker Pollard, but the whistle went for offside as he fired the ball into the net.
A typical run from Séan McBride saw him fouled on the edge of the penalty box, but a tame free-kick from Matt Gearing looped over the goal without testing the defensive wall or goalkeeper.
The Poachers’ wideplay had pinned back the Diamonds full-backs for long periods, but Jake Gillingwater did get forwards to link up with the Diamonds strikers before a well-hit shot just missed the target.
It looked like the first-half might end goalless, with both sides looking at improving things in front of goal for the second period, but with 44 minutes on the clock Jon Stevenson picked up the ball in the left channel about 25 yards out, and he hit an unstoppable shot into the top right-hand corner of the goal. Lance Allen had a chance to get a quick reply, but his effort hit a defender and was cleared away.
Half-Time: Oadby Town 1 AFC Rushden & Diamonds 0
One of the many clichés in football concerns the “best time to score” being either side of half-time, and the home side duly scored two further goals early in the second period, meaning they had effectively scored three times in under 10 minutes. Both goals came in similar fashion, with space being found on the right, first by Stevenson, and then by Reeve, with the crosses finding Ollie Brown-Hill and Nick Pollard in space to fire the ball home.
The Diamonds were struggling to recover from these three setbacks, with a good effort from Sam Brown all they had to show for their efforts in the third quarter of the game, and as they chased the game in the final quarter they saw further goals from Elliott Wright and Man-of-The-Match Jon Stevenson take them five goals ahead. The fifth goal was scored past Ashley Foulger after Quincy Shorunmu had to leave the action with a groin injury.
Just as it looked like the Diamonds might end a game with a blank scoreline for the first time, Alfie Taylor popped up on the right with a neat finish after latching on to a through-ball from substitute Peter Okechukwu on the right, but this was very scant consolation for the second half-performance, especially as they had match their opponents throughout the first period.
Full-Time: Oadby Town 5 AFC Rushden & Diamonds 1
The Diamonds have a chance to get back to winning ways on Tuesday evening when Rushden & Higham United make the short trip to the Dog & Duck.
The current UCL League Table can be found on the AFC Diamonds website here.
Diamonds Man-of-the-Match: Not Awarded
AFC Rushden & Diamonds
1. Denham Hinds
2. Mason Hirst
3. Callum Earls
4. Jim Dodds
5. Eddie Appleton
6. Che Adam
7. Michael Reeve
8. Elliott Wright
9. Nick Pollard
10. Jon Stevenson
11. Ollie Brown-Hill
12. Ross Trevor (for Pollard 87)
14. Sam Benjamin (for Reeve 80)
15. Jurelle Phillips
16. Luke Dalby (for Brown-Hill 87)
17. Quincy Shorunmu
2. Jake Gillingwater
3. Sam Brown
4. Séan McBride
5. Chris Hope
6. Alex Deakin
7. Lance Allen
8. Brad Harris
9. Jake Newman
10. Ben Morgan
11. Matt Gearing
12. Alfie Taylor (for Allen 57)
13. Ashley Foulger (for Shorunmu 83)
14. Louis Smith
15. Peter Okechukwu (for Morgan 74)
16. Deven Ellwood
Goals: Stevenson (44, 86), Brown-Hill (50), Pollard (52), Wright (67)
Goals: Taylor (90+2)
Yellow Cards : Appleton, Adam
Yellow Cards: Brown, Shorunmu
Referee: Andy Mead
Assistants: Chris Giles, Robin Dungworth
For Match highlights see here.
Images courtesy of Mal Swinden ©2013 Malcolm Swinden Photography
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